This session by Mark Osborne took place at the online Future of English Language Teaching Conference (FOELT), organised by Trinity College London and Regent’s University London. You can learn more about the annual event at trinitycollege.com/FOELT.
Watch the video
It would be unusual for someone who keeps abreast of the news not to have heard of OpenAI’s release last year of ChatGPT and the ensuing consternation in educational circles over the role that such artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are playing and could play in the near future.
In this talk, I will explore both AI’s current role in ELT as well as the opportunities and implications for the (near) future. The focus will be on three distinct but interrelated areas of ELT activity: Teaching (including teacher training and education); Publishing (materials creation and distribution); and Assessment (formative and summative, high-stakes and low-stakes). The exploration will be conducted in part through the lens of Activity Theory, which is a useful heuristic enabling the identification of tensions and contradictions within activity systems. The lens will be adjusted to encompass micro (e.g. classroom), meso (e.g. institutional) and macro (e.g. global) levels of activity.
Part 1 comprises a brief introduction to artificial intelligence and its subset of machine learning (ML) and how they have developed historically up to the present; Part 2 will describe examples of how ELT practitioners are currently employing AI and ML technologies (examples will also be taken from general education and non-ELT fields where there are analogies with ELT); Part 3 will consider the opportunities and implications for the future, including the corporatisation of teaching and assessment tools and materials, and the possible consequences for human teacher and ELT professional agency.
The audience will leave with a clearer understanding of the nature of AI and ML and their current uses in ELT, and be more aware of the future opportunities - and threats - for ELT. They will be better able to critically evaluate utopian and dystopian viewpoints.
About the presenter
The presenter, Mark Osborne, Mark has worked in TESOL for 35+ years as a teacher, examiner, teacher educator, materials designer/developer and consultant. Currently course director on the Trinity CertTESOL and DipTESOL at QUALIFY (https://qualify.gr) and freelancing developing print and digital materials for all CEFR levels and ages 5+ (https://markosborne.com).
He has given talks and presentations at many Greek and international TESOL-related conferences, published articles and received international awards, most recently a British Council ELTons Award for Digital Innovation.
BSc Psychology, PostgradCert (Open & Distance Education), LTCL TESOL, PostgradDip TESOL, MA Media-Assisted Language Learning & Teaching, MRes Technology Enhanced Learning.